Tuesday, 16 February 2010
I promise I will talk about something other than skiing in the very near future, but for now, what with the Winter Olympics being on in Vancouver, and what with Norway having won more medals at the WO’s than any other nation in the history of the games, I have to get some of this off my chest.
When it comes to downhill, I watch very, very closely. I might as well have been in Vancouver. I could feel every bump of that course, every little shoogly bit, every nuance, every little teaser that piste had to offer. What’s more, I was fiendishly jealous of those guys, over taken by an urge to join in and ski that heavenly long run myself. They were making it look pimps, after all....fast but pimps. (That’s the trouble with downhillers...we like to flatter ourselves, but the telly makes steep slopes a good deal less steep than they really are.) Anyway, one way and another, I was with them right down to the finish line. And now I’m whacked, my thighs are aching, I need to soak in a hot bath.
I know I’m now officially a ‘langrenn’ convert, but that does not mean I’ve lost my downhill legs. When I see a guy giving it laldy in the downhill, I do not just sit around. I’m there. And when the Norwegian decided to take the lead for a while, I was very, very nervous on his behalf.
‘Aksel’ I yelled at the telly. ‘Go’on yersel.’ He MUST have heard, because he was going great guns down the Toilet Bowl and he belted down the Weasel, but he sped up marvellously as he ‘took big air’ over Boyd’s Chin and Murray’s Hope.
Of course there was a Brit in the race too, Mr Ed Drake of Tooting, a fine specimen of a skier if ever I saw one. But he wasn’t in the running for a medal, so naturally I plumped for Aksel Lund Svindal, living proof that the Norwegians can shine in downhill, even if cross-country is their natural habitat. And why would anyone be surprised by that? They have snow, they have mountains. It’s Jo Obvious.
It caught on. In 1924, it was Chamonix that hosted the first Winter Olympics. And it just so happened that the first four places in the 50K race that year were won by Norwegians.
Incidentally, Aksel, who’d skied before the sun came out and made the piste easier to read, ended up with the silver medal. Swiss Didier Defago beat him by 7 hundredths of a second. Maybe ‘pimps’ was an understatement.
Posted by Returning Scot at 11:05